The word “Americana” when applied to music conjures up visions of acoustic guitar, singing with friends around a fire, and an authentic approach to the music and lyrics. All of these things are true – at its best it can incorporate country, folk, bluegrass, and even R&B into the mix. Over the last decade or so a curious thing has taken place – as American indie bands discovered pastoral (think Nick Drake), English indie bands have discovered Americana styled music (think The Band). What happens when the two styles merge? You end up with a band like The Cornelius Crane, who have delivered a masterpiece of a record, E.P. Too.
In the 60’s and 70’s it seemed like artists released records more quickly. They’d put out a great record, tour for a bit, then get right back into the studio. It seemed like this model began to shift in the late 80’s. I’m not sure if it was waiting 4 years for Guns ‘n’ Roses to put out the Use Your Illusion albums or if it was the 3 years between Disintegration and Wish by The Cure. Either way, major acts began to make the fans wait an inordinate amount of time between records. Neil Young has thankfully been (mostly) an exception to this rule.
There comes a point in an artist’s career where every album release is accompanied by a the double-edged damning praise statement “it is INSERT ARTISTS NAME best album since….landmark album, usually from about 20 years ago”. There are a few schools of thought when it comes to this:
1. Lazy journalism
2. Truly the artist reached a peak with that landmark album and for some reason has never been able to match that level of artistry since
3. The listener has not gone into the album with an open mind, saddling the artists final work with the listeners preconceived notions of what the album should sound like (usually, but not always tied into #1)
Neil Young seems to be an artist that confounds reviewers. Almost every album since 1989’s Freedom has included some sort of praise saying “wow, this is Neil’s best album since…”. 18 months goes by, Neil puts another album out and the cycle starts all over again. Every reviewer mysteriously comes down with a case of amnesia about the review they had just written a year and a half before. Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about: Continue reading
The show Gilmore Girls always frustrated the hell out of me. The mom (played by Lauren Graham) always failed to connect with me – it always looked like she was trying to think of her lines to me. The show itself had a mildly interesting premise and was usually watchable. Coming from the “Grunge Generation” I was very excited when Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and daughter Coco appeared on a season finale one year to do an acoustic version of a song from the current album at the time Rather Ripped (You are right – Sonic Youth were not grunge – the single “100%” exploded during the era). I liked the performance and the strange idea of No Wave godfathers appearing on a hit show that appeared on the WB network. I was left with a nagging feeling that I’d just rather watch the incredible Sebastian Bach do his thing on the show. A strange feeling. (In the context of Gilmore Girls and music, strange to think of Sebastian Bach as the steady, workmanlike figure and Sonic Youth as the stars. Sebastian has delivered two back to back masterpieces by the way with Angel Down and Kicking & Screaming)